SBSO expands educational offerings with new Youth Wind Ensemble

Dr. Nicholas Bratcher, who also serves as director of bands at California State University San Bernardino, will lead this educational effort.

The San Bernardino Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble (SBSYWE) is a new music education initiative from the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra providing a nurturing and creative environment where young musicians can grow musically and holistically through performance. 

SBSYWE is a wind symphony for woodwinds, brass, and percussion students ages 14 to 21 from the Inland Empire, Coachella Valley, and surrounding areas. Instruments include flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, horn, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba, percussion, and double bass. 

Explained San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor Anthony Parnther, “We’ve been looking for creative ways to supplement the great music education that our young students already get in the San Bernardino School District. But in addition to that, we have resources and assets that we want to share with our community, and the greatest of those is our new SBSO Youth Wind Ensemble Director, Dr. Nicholas Bratcher, who brings a long track record of excellence and dedication to our organization. We’re tremendously excited about implementing and growing a premier youth group that our region can be proud of.”

Dr. Nicholas Bratcher, who also serves as director of bands at California State University San Bernardino, will lead this educational effort. A champion of new wind band works and works by underrepresented composers, Dr. Bratcher plans to provide a unique artistic experience to members of the ensemble.

“I’m very thankful to the San Bernardino Symphony Board for putting their faith in me to helm this endeavor and thrilled to be part of this creative team alongside Maestro Anthony Parnther and Principal Guest Conductor Lesley Leighton,” shared Bratcher.

The ensemble has been a long-time dream of the organization,” shared Symphony Board of Directors President Dean McVay. “Accessible music and music education are the cornerstones of our organization and this new program will allow us to serve our community in an entirely new way. We are extremely grateful to Maestro Parnther and Dr. Bratcher for creating such an amazing opportunity for the youth of our community.”

The Spring Semester of the 2021-2022 academic year will mark the inaugural season of the ensemble. Applications are currently being accepted and auditions will be held in the coming weeks.

“I’m super excited to be a part of this wonderful music education initiative by the San Bernardino Symphony,” said Bratcher. “Having a Youth Wind Ensemble of this potential caliber will be huge for our area! This new ensemble will provide a great way for young musicians to improve their skills, perform with some of the best students in the region, and grow not only as musicians, but as human beings through the wind band medium.”

The SBSYWE will provide two concerts per academic year. The first concert is scheduled for June 5, 2022, with rehearsals beginning in early April.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generous grant received earlier this year that has allowed us to make a program like this possible for the youth of our community,” said Symphony executive director Dr. Anne Viricel, adding “While the Symphony is a recognized leader in youth music education, offering scheduled classes and performances is a bold new step toward the advancement of our mission.”

In fact, since the 1990s, the Symphony has offered its award-winning Music in the Schools program which introduces the instruments of the orchestra to San Bernardino City Unified School District third-graders who may elect to study an instrument in school the following year. In addition, the Symphony has provided free concerts to District students for over 20 years and has distributed thousands of donor-funded tickets to local students and their families through their Classroom to Concert Hall initiative. Since 1984, the organization has also administered a certificated teen ambassadorship program, Symphony Debs and Red Ties, benefitting hundreds of local high school students.

Earlier this year, the Symphony partnered with California State University San Bernardino to create a series of music education videos now offered on the Symphony website. In addition to use by the public, the videos are also used at local school districts and by Symphony docents in educational presentations at schools and libraries.

For more information about the San Bernardino Symphony’s music education programs, including SBSYWE audition requirements, please visit the Symphony website at